New-generation coastguard vessels will conduct maritime security missions in collaboration with ‘regional partners’
Move is ‘critical to countering [China’s] destabilising and malign actions’, said US national security adviser Robert O’Brien in a statement
coastguard will start to base Enhanced Response Cutters in the western Pacific for maritime security missions, the national security adviser said on Friday, citing illegal fishing and harassment of vessels by
In a statement, Robert O’Brien also said the coastguard planned to evaluate next financial year the feasibility of basing Fast Response Cutters in American Samoa in the South Pacific.
The statement described the United States as a Pacific power and added that China’s “illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and harassment of vessels operating in the exclusive economic zones of other countries in the Indo-Pacific threatens our sovereignty, as well as the sovereignty of our Pacific neighbours and endangers regional stability.”
It said US efforts, including by the coastguard, were “critical to countering these destabilising and malign actions.”
“To that end, the US [coastguard] is strategically homeporting significantly enhanced Fast Response Cutters … in the western Pacific,” the statement said, without detailing where the vessels would be based or how many were involved.
O’Brien said the new-generation coastguard vessels would conduct maritime security missions, such as fisheries patrols, and enhance maritime-domain awareness and enforcement efforts in collaboration with “regional partners who have limited offshore surveillance and enforcement capacity.”
“Enhancing the presence of the US [coastguard] in the Indo-Pacific ensures the United States will remain the maritime partner of choice in the region,” his statement said.
The coastguard did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the statement, which came just ahead of a planned visit to Asia by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
this month in Tokyo, a grouping Washington hopes to develop as a bulwark against China’s growing assertiveness and extensive maritime claims in the region, including to most of the strategic South China Sea.
The US Navy regularly angers China by conducting what it calls “freedom of navigation” operations close to some of the islands China occupies that are also claimed by other states.
O’Brien’s announcement comes less than two weeks ahead of the November 3 US presidential election, in which President
’s campaign has made a tough approach to China a major foreign policy theme.